Monday, February 08, 2016

Pet Food Marketing Is Confusing and Misleading

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Sleuth the Reporter Dog, Veterinary News Network Mascot

Sleuth thinks that it’s a good thing that he can’t read whenever he’s in the pet food aisle at the local pet superstore!  So many words claiming incredible things!  Being the intrepid pup reporter, Sleuth asked the Veterinary News Network if any of these big words on pet food bags really mean anything!

1)    Most pet owners realize that the marketing and buzz-words on bags of pet food are really geared towards them, but few understand that many of these terms have no actual legally defined meaning when it comes to our pet’s diets.

2)    The word “natural” has been defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t become concerned about it unless the food has artificial flavors, added color or synthetic substances.

3)    “Organic” is another word that has legal definition.  Pet foods and treats labeled as organic must meet standards set forth by the National Organic Program.

4)    But many other terms, like “premium”, “gourmet” or even “holistic” are not legally defined.  But marketers use them because they know words like this entice pet owners.

5)    Worst of all, the term “human-grade ingredients” implies that the pet food is totally edible by people.   However, unless the pet food manufacturer has followed all federal regulations for production of human food, AAFCO considers this to be “mis-branding”.

6)    “Human-grade” has not definition within the pet food industry.  Even ingredients that were once part of a human food supply chain lose the “human quality” definition once they enter the procession to become food for our pets.

7)    Finding a food doesn’t have to be hard.  First, consider asking your veterinarian for some objective opinions.  You can be sure that you will get good advice without marketing hype.

8)    Next, look for foods that have been through AAFCO feeding trials.  This helps assure you that the food is digestible, palatable and your pet can use the food’s nutrients.

9)    Finally, don’t be swayed be price on either end of the scale.  Foods that are less than $1 per pound may end up costing more because the pet will eat more.  Most good foods can be found for $1-2 per pound.

10)    Trust a site like to provide you with accurate and unbiased pet health information.